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Duty

Posted on Sat May 8th, 2021 @ 3:49am by Lady Joanna Hightower & Ser Alixander Hightower

Mission: The Great Council
Location: Beacon Hall
Timeline: 1 day before the Great Council

Beacon Hall was a walled manse near the River Gate owned the Hightowers. It had its own small rookery, allowing the Hightowers and their Household to send ravens to the Hightower and a few select other castles and homes without making use of the Red Keep. Lady Joanna was there in person now, dressed in a simple and practical green dress as she held one of the birds, stroking its head. She looked up when she heard movement. "Alix, is that you?"

"Alix! Alix!" the raven cried.

"My Lady," it was Alix's squire, a boy of thirteen with rolls and coils of chestnut-colored hair, a beakish nose, and dark, raven-like eyes. "He is..." the youth hesitated some, fumbling fingers, "Indisposed. With a..." His brows knitted at his nose, "But he is coming. Shortly."

"With what?" Joanna asked, more irritably than she'd intended.

"A... uh. A woman, my Lady," the Squire said.

"I see," Joanna said with a tired sigh.

The squire grimaced into one cheek, "I can take you to him if you wish, My Lady. But-"

"No need, Theodure," said a voice far behind. A blonde man was striding toward them, pulling a shirt over his head. It was Alix Hightower.

"I'm glad you're keeping yourself amused," Joanna said drily as she set the raven back in his cage.

Alix was rolling up his sleeves to just below his elbows, strings for tying swaying at he came to a stop, "What else should I be doing?" He sked with a glance at his cousin. "Listen to graybeards argue?" He sighed and finished tying his sleeve, "If I wanted that, I'd join the Citadel."

Joanna looked at him a long moment. It was hard to tell if she was sad or angry. She quietly opened another of the cages, taking a raven out and stroking the top of the bird's head. "You've been cooped up in that cage too long, haven't you?" She walked over to fetch a few bits of bread for it, which she handed to the bird one by one. "There you go. That's a special treat. You've been a good boy."

Alix sighed. He walked up behind and then beside Joanna, "Don't worry. Once all this is over, you can go home and be with all your birds. It'll just be a few more days." He pet the raven's breast with a finger. He sighed again. "Do you ever wonder why ravens? Why not... pigeons? Or hawks?"

"That depends on how it goes," Joanna said softly, for the first time wondering if she actually wanted things to go her and Aethan's way in the vote. It would be nice to just be with the ravens. "I wish I could listen to greybeards argue. I have to listen to the Conclave sometimes. If you ever become Lord of Oldtown, you will too."

Alix formed a line with his mouth, "Me? I'd make a terrible Lord. It should be you." He shrugged a shoulder, "I'm all for the Citadel... and I think learnings important. But not if its just sitting unused up in a tower while a bunch of old men watch it all deteriorate."

"It might be you. If Aethan and I don't have children, gods forbid, or if Aethan is asked to be King, then I'd likely need to yield it. It's more than dealing with the Citadel, of course. You'd have knights and soldiers and the Bank of Oldtown and ships and lords bannermen. You could put that knowledge to use," Joanna said.

"And fend off Garth Blackwater... the Lannisters... or Gods forbid, those heathen savages up in the Iron islands..." Alix listed as well. "Do you want to marry him?" Alix asked, "He's..." Alix made a face, "Almost as pretty as you are. Are you alright with that?"

"Garth Blackwater is our liege lord," she pointed out. Then she paused and considered the question. "I love him," she answered, ignorant of certain information.

Alix nodded, "I know that... but Oldtown has always stood on its own two legs. Liege or not, the Reach is different than Oldtown. And the Hightowers are older than the Blackwaters." To the latter, Alix raised his eyebrows, "A love match?"

"Oldtown is in the Reach," she reminded him. "The marriage pact between Highgarden and Oldtown largely made the Reach what it is, although I am sure they say differently at Old Oak and the Arbor." She sighed. "An advantageous match, but it helps to get on well."

"Do you think there's ever been a marriage between Oldtown and a potential King before?" Alix asked.

"There have been two Hightower queens," Joanna said. "Ceryse Hightower, wife of Maegor I, and Alicent Hightower, wife of Viserys I."

"Ah," Alix admitted with a single word of his ignorance. "What did you need to see me about?"

"Marriage," Joanna said gently.

"To Lord Velaryon?" Alix misunderstood. "Has something gone wrong?"

"Your marriage," she clarified.

Alix blinked, "And who am I marrying?" His voice had a note of tense hesitancy.

"Depending upon the results of the Council, I had thought it might be wise to establish another tie with the Blackwaters," she said.

Alix frowned, mood slightly darkened. "Do we need our more ties with the Lords of the Reach? They have our fealty..." Alix knew though that he had little say in this matter. "If not the Blackwaters, then who?"

"We need them precisely for that reason," Joanna said. "As we did with the Gardeners and the Tyrells. Besides the Blackwater granddaughters are charming and lovely." She gave a small shrug. "If not the Blackwaters, I am not certain."

Alix sighed. "Suddenly I feel like the currency of the Realm," he joked dryly. He moved away and started to pick up a stone, checking it for flatness and roundness. "I guess we'll see how the Council goes. Who are you voting with? Your new husband, or it sounds like the Tullys?"

"With Aethan, of course," Joanna said, a slight raise of a brow. "Why would I vote for the Tullys?"

Alix, with raised brows, shook his head, "What if Lord Blackwater goes Tully?"

"He is bound to in the first ballot. If he stands with us in the second..." She smiled and then sighed. "Did you have a chance to meet his grandchildren at the engagement celebration?"

Alix shook his head no. He only had vague memories of people around their Lord and he hadn't assumed they were his brethren.

"You should meet soon," she suggested.

"Which one?" Alix asked.

"Lady Ceryse," she answered.

Alix nodded, "You'll have to point her out, I don't remember which one she is."

"I will," she agreed.

Alix nodded with a somewhat grim look, a new weight of responsibility on young shoulders. He shook his head with a blink, "Is there anything else?"

"Not unless there's something you wished to speak of...?" she answered.

Alix shook his head with a resigned no.

 

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